Billings, Mt – Attorneys for Wyoming have asked a federal magistrate to decide if lawsuits challenging coal-bed methane plans should be heard in Montana. Conservation groups had sued the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Interior. Among their claims was that a single environmental study looking at the potential effects of coal-bed methane development should have been done for the Powder River Basin. The mineral-rich basin is in Montana and Wyoming. But each state has its own development plans.
Cheyenne, WY – Two of Wyoming's top five elected officials held a press conference Wednesday to air some grievances. The message had an air of partisanship, but Wyoming Public Radio's Renny MacKay reports the officials tried emphatically to clear the air.
Newcastle, Wy – A firefighter accused of driving drunk before a rollover that killed 16-year-old volunteer firefighter Anndee Huber was sentenced today to 14 to 18 years in prison. Forty-seven-year-old Ronald Caillier pleaded guilty in July to aggravated vehicular homicide in the May 22nd crash south of Newcastle. District Judge Dan R-Price The Second also ordered Caillier to pay more than 99-hundred dollars in restitution. He was given credit for 208 days in jail.
Cheyenne, Wy – On the same day the U-S fish and wildlife service rejected three petitions to delist the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, the state has gotten in the picture. Because they say researchers of Denver's Museum of Nature and Science say the mouse is not genetically distinct from a common mouse, the state is the latest to ask Fish and Wildlife to remove it from the list of threatened and endangered animals.
Yellowstone, WY – The snowmobile season in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks started Wednesday with the cloud of a federal judge's ruling hanging overhead. Just 13 hours before the season got underway, Washington D-C District Judge Emmet Sullivan struck down the Bush Administration's plan to allow snowmobiling to continue in the parks. Sullivan ordered the Park Service to reinstate the Clinton Administration plan that will result in a ban on the machines. Snowmobiles are still allowed this year, but in smaller numbers and all visitors must have guides.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank plans to file an appeal Wednesday of a judge's decision regarding snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Crank says Wyoming officials feel the Bush administration's winter use plan is the correct one. He says the federal judge who reinstated the Clinton administration's snowmobile ban has second-guessed the National Park Service.
Cheyenne, Wy – Three of Wyoming's five top elected officials say there is an imbalance in power among them. Auditor Max Maxfield, Treasurer Cynthia Lummis and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship say they are supposed to be equal. But, Maxfield says right now other officials can trump their work. He says the governor is one of them. Maxfield says this is because the governor names the directors of the offices the five officials oversee, so they're more beholden to him.
Casper, WY – The legislature is going to try to come up with legislation that will deal with the conflicts of surface owners and those who own minerals under the surface. The Judiciary committee has agreed to sponsor a bill that would require an agreement between a surface landowner and developer. Sheridan Senator Bruce Burns says the bill increases the damages and what's interpreted as damages rather than just grass. He says it takes into account the tangible and sometimes intangible values on the land and recognizes the loss of property values.
Cheyenne, Wy – In the governor's budget request he is asking for a pay raise for state employees. Governor Freudenthal says he wants to offer competitive salaries to attract quality employees. On top of a pay raise he is asking the legislature to continue funding an insurance package that covers 85 percent for employees, spouses and dependents. Freudenthal says this important because the state is not the highest paying employer in Wyoming and so it needs to have an attractive benefits package to attract skilled employees.
Cheyenne, WY – The State of Wyoming appealed a court order striking down rules to allow snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks Wednesday. Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled the National Park Service has to revert to a Clinton administration plan to phase out snowmobiles from the parks. That means far fewer snowmobiles will be allowed this year and none next year. Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank disagrees with the Sullivan, who wrote the Bush Administration decision was completely politically driven and results oriented.
Pinedale, WY – A second test has confirmed the presence of brucellosis in a Sublette county cattle herd. Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan says the test verified the original results of 31 cows in the herd having the disease.
Washington, DC – A federal judge says the National Park Service was wrong to set aside the Clinton Administration plan to ban snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. That decision late Tuesday comes just one day before the service had planned to open a winter season under rules that allowed snowmobiling to continue. US District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, DC says the Bush administration has to revive the plan it scrapped. That plan phased the machines out in favor of mass-transit snow coaches, which would reduce pollution in the parks.
Laramie, Wy – One of the people who ran against Barbara Cubin for her seat in the U-S Congress is ready to run again. Ron Akin was the Democratic candidate in 2002. He announced Tuesday that he has hired political consultants and plans on being better prepared. Akin says he spent 20 thousand dollars in the last election cycle; he wants to raise 600 thousand this time. He says money is important to a campaign. Akin says he will not seek help from the National Democratic Party because he wants to remain independent.
Pinedale, WY – More than 300 people packed a meeting Monday night in Pinedale to find out about a brucellosis infection in an area cattle herd. Governor Dave Freudenthal and other state and federal officials discussed the situation. The meeting lasted for well over four hours and touched on the possible source of brucellosis in Sublette county, the effectiveness of vaccines, methods of transmission and the possibility of forming a Brucellosis task force. So far, tests have shown the disease has not spread beyond the one herd.
Wyoming – Aaron Alpern speaks with Bruce Burns, Sheridan Senator and member of the Joint Judiciary Committee about legislation to address the split estate issue. Jim Morgan speaks with Colorado League of Charter Schools, Jim Griffin about the future of charter schools in Wyoming. Topic: The campaign for economic development raps up this week; Guest: Mark Zaback, Campaign Co-Chair.
Riverton, WY – Officials at Riverton Regional Airport say they expect to meet federal passenger requirements this year. The airport has boarded 9,928 passengers through November. That's just 72 shy of the ten thousand needed to guarantee one million dollars in annual funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. Mayor's Assistant Bill Urbigkit says 866 passengers alone boarded in November, leaving city officials confident of ten thousand.
Worland, WY – Police in Worland say a toddler is lucky to be alive after finding a bag of potent methamphetamine on a convenience store floor. The three year old boy found the bag at the One Stop Convenience Store late last week. It was filled with just under five grams of meth. Police say the boy handed the bag to store employees, who called authorities. Officer Dale Bush says the boy was lucky he didn't try tasting the drug. He says the bag contained enough of the drug to kill a child. Police have few leads on the possible owner. No prints were found on the bag.
Casper, Wy – Former District Attorney Kevin Meenan pleaded guilty to two felonies and a misdemeanor in Natrona County district court. Meenan admitted to spending money from his stepdaughters personal injury settlement and of forging his stepson's name to get a credit card. Special Prosecutor Frank Chapman has recomended a sentence of two years probabtion. He says jail time is not necessary. Formal sentencing will come following a presentence investigation. Chapman expects Meenan will also lose his legal license. He resigned as 7th District Attorney last week.
Cheyenne, Wy – The state's Game and Fish Department has a new director. The governor announced that Terry Cleveland would take over the position. Cleveland has worked with the department in different roles for over 30 years. He replaces Brent Manning who resigned in September to take a higher paying job in his home state of Illinois. Cleveland says he will focus on several issues many of which are in the headlines every day; endangered species, wildlife diseases, a decline in hunting and a lack of funding for the Department.
Natrona, WY – A plea agreement was announced Monday in the closely-watched criminal case against Kevin Meenan. The now-former District Attorney for Natrona County pleaded guilty to 3 of the 11 counts he faced, including forgery and official misconduct. Wyoming Public Radio's Aaron Alpern was in the courtroom and reports the plea agreement should keep Meenan from serving time in prison.
Laramie, Wy – The Head of Wyoming's Stockgrowers Association worries that a local Elk Herd could be behind the Brucellosis outbreak in Sublette county. Stockgrowers Executive Vice President Jim Magagna notes that an elk feed ground is located near the infected cattle herd. He says some of the elk are infected. If it is determined they are the cause, Magagna says they would want to reopen discussions over what to do with infected elk. He says currently the Game and Fish department does not move them, even if they are infected.
Washington D-C – Snowmobilers who want to ride in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks when the winter season starts Wednesday may not know until Tuesday what sort of machines they can use. A federal judge is deciding whether the National Park Service, under the Bush administration, acted appropriately when it set aside a plan to ban snowmobiles and instead adopted regulations that set limits on the number of machines allowed in the parks and require those machines to be less polluting than a typical snowmobile.
Casper, WY – A court hearing is set for Monday morning for the new former District Attorney in Casper. Kevin Meenan was set to go on trial to a series of fraud and forgery charges involving his step-children's finances. Meenan resigned as District Attorney last week and he may change his not guilty plea during Monday's hearing. Meanwhile, the Wyoming State Bar refuses to say whether complaints against Meenan have been filed.
Laramie, Wy – In order to allow the Iraqi people to feel empowerment, a former Ambassador to Kuwait is urging the United States to try Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Francois Dickman also was an Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates a political system he thinks could work in Iraq. Dickman says many will suggest other locations for Hussein's trial, but he argues Iraq is best. Dickman says while many did not like Saddam Hussein, many will also not be pleased the United States captured him. He says the U-S needs to avoid any gloating over the capture.
Jackson, WY – The Wyoming Department of Transportation says it's ready to begin using two remote controlled bomb-throwing devices to reduce the risk of avalanches on Teton Pass. The system is a series of tubes set up permanently on the side of Glory Mountain. Charges are loaded into the bomb-launcher in advance and propelled from the tubes by a small charge. The department also uses a 105-millimeter howitzer to blast the mountainside and release avalanches under controlled conditions. But Wy-Dot officials want to get away from using that cannon.
Washington, D.C. – A federal judge in Washington will hear arguments Monday on the Bush administration's winter use plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Environmental groups favor a plan written by the Clinton administration to phase out snowmobiles in favor of snowcoaches. They're asking the judge to reinstate the Clinton plan. The Bush administration plan would reduce the number of snowmobiles and require the cleanest machines. The judge doesn't have much time to issue a ruling. The snowmobiling season is scheduled to start Wednesday.